FRISCO, Texas – Jerry Jones did everyone the favor of ruling Tony Romo out well before the Cowboys traveled to Cleveland last week. Don't expect the same courtesy this time around.
Fresh off his team's 35-10 beating of the Browns, the Cowboys' owner/general manager held his customary interview session with reporters. But when questions turned toward the familiar subject of Romo's availability, Jones was much more evasive than he was a week ago.
"Unlike last week, I wouldn't speculate," he said through a smile.
It has been more than two months since Romo suffered a compression fracture in an Aug. 25 preseason game against Seattle. In recent weeks, the veteran quarterback has showed signs of a possible return to action, as he has participated in four of the Cowboys' last six practices – twice ahead of the Oct. 30 game against Philadelphia, and twice more before the trip to Cleveland.
It only stands to reason that Romo is making steady progress as more time passes from the time of the injury.
"Romo is a week better off, he's stronger," Jones said. "He's certainly quicker – all the things that you would expect another week, and a good week on his part, with strength and conditioning."
Jones added that he expects Romo to ramp up his workload in practice this week, ahead of the Week 10 trip to play Pittsburgh. In previous practice, Romo has participated in individual drills at the outset of practice, and he has played a limited role in the team's seven-on-seven work.
Jones didn't elaborate on what an increased workload might mean, but he said he was encouraged by the progress Romo has made during the last two months.
"I don't know, but he will do more," he said. "And he's really doing things that are strong, relative to last year – his strength is ahead of last year."
[embeddedad0]Any talk about Romo's recovery is ultimately going to lead back to a familiar topic – the question of whether he'll replace Dak Prescott in the starting lineup once he's healthy. It's become an increasingly difficult question to answer, given that Prescott has helped the Cowboys to a 7-1 record on the strength of seven straight wins.
Anyone familiar with the conversation should also be familiar with Jones' response to it by now. With the Cowboys winning games and Romo still working to return, there's no need to make a decision – and Jones doesn't plan to. Asked about it repeatedly on Sunday evening, he referred to the situation as "a wonderful problem to have."
"We've got some real talent at our quarterback position," he said. "I think Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks that have played this game. My real regret would be to have had him here and not won a Super Bowl with him – he's that talented. Then I look at Dak and how he's playing, his future – I just don't have a problem with his situation."
There's been some speculation that a drawn out decision might fragment the Cowboys' locker room, with some players rallying behind the rookie quarterback and other siding with the established veteran.
That isn't a concern for the Cowboys, to hear it from Jones. The reasoning is evident, as he said the entire organization is maintaining a singular focus: continuing to win.
"Everybody wants to do whatever it takes to move the football, win and stop them," he said. "So no, I'm not the least bit. When I talk to coaches or talk to players, I don't walk on egg shells at all, relative to Romo or Dak."